In 1968 Cheffers became the head athletic coach for Zimbabwe, then called Rhodesia. His experiences coaching the multiracial team that was selected are detailed in his book A Wilderness of Spite: Rhodesia Denied. This team was denied entry to Mexico for the Olympics by the Mexican government, and was, de facto, banned from the Olympic Games at this point. Cheffers has a strong belief, as a result of this time, that politics should not interfere in sport. Mathias Kanda, Bernard Dzoma and Robson Mrombe are well known distance runners who John coached during 1968.